Ronald Regan once said:
"Entrepreneurs and their small enterprises are responsible for almost all the economic growth in the United States."
He's still exactly right.
Small businesses are the drivers of everything that makes our nation unique in the world: opportunity, prosperity, and freedom.
Lawmakers should be protecting an individual's right to create a business and provide products or services that customers value. Sadly, that's not the case currently in Lansing.
Jim Sherman is the founder and owner of Sherman Auto Parts in Washington, Michigan -- his family owned business is in jeopardy!
In a recent Op-Ed for MLive, Jim illustrates the personal impact of bad policy making:
My family business in Macomb County has come a long way since 1981, when I began ordering hard-to-find parts to rebuild my 1970 Road Runner Superbird and discovered an entire market in the U.S. looking for the same sorts of parts. Today, we and other aftermarket parts distributors across the state supply high-quality, lower-priced aftermarket parts for vehicles of all ages. HB 4344 is moving quickly and quietly through the Legislature and threatening my business and others like it.
I recently wrote about House Bill 4344. It was moving rather quietly through both chambers until concerned citizens got wind of the rubber-stamped bill and took action.
Here's what Jim Sherman says about HB 4344:
HB 4344, which passed the Senate on Tuesday, gives preferential treatment to car company parts while making it illegal for body shops to install most of the aftermarket parts currently available on the market today. Language in the bill requires any aftermarket part used to be verified by a nationally recognized automotive parts testing agency. The aftermarket employs quality assurance programs for many of our parts, but it's an intensive process and only a small percentage of aftermarket parts available are third-party certified. Furthermore, while the automakers' replacement parts typically aren't manufactured by the car companies; there is no certification process for their replacement parts.
Shops like mine aren't the only losers; consumers lose out too. The aftermarket industry maintains high standards of quality and safety while providing another benefit that is extremely important to most Americans and most Michiganders I know — ensuring that a lower-cost option is available in the marketplace while helping keep the prices of car companies' replacement parts lower too. HB 4344 will create a virtual monopoly for the automakers, since the alternative is more expensive car company parts. As a result, consumers lose the choice to decide which parts they will use, and they lose money.
Driving a car in Michigan is expensive. We suffer from some of the highest insurance rates in the nation, and state lawmakers recently passed legislation raising taxes at the pump. More expensive car parts simply add to the frustrations at home where families are stretching budgets further and further.
I'll let Jim sum it all up:
My business thrives on competition and the car companies seem to be doing okay too. Lawmakers shouldn't be picking winners and losers, and they certainly shouldn't be legislating market share for the automakers on the backs of Michigan small businesses and Michigan's consumers. As the owner of a family business that employs over 40 people and takes great pride in providing high-quality parts at much lower prices than the car companies to customers across our state, I hope that our state leaders will see the light and remove this amendment.